MARKETS & PACKAGING


Comexi and the new trends in sustainable barrier packaging

15/11/2019

CATEGORY: Sustainability and environment BRAND: Comexi


“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.“ -John F. Kennedy

 


Albert Chicote

 

In recent months we have been hearing copious news regarding the use of plastic in the flexible packaging industry. Most reports argue against the use of this material, in many cases advocating its total elimination.

Although flexible packaging meets all the functional requirements for which it was intended, all the benefits of its use are now in question, and attempts are being made to replace it with another, more ecological, sustainable, and recyclable material that can be reused. This is no easy task. Yet it is a challenge that must be taken on by all.

Indeed, the problem of what to do with plastic waste is an issue faced globally. Ninety percent of the plastic found in the oceans comes from rivers. Of these, 75% of the most polluted worldwide are located in Asia and Africa, regions where selective waste collection is practically non-existent and which, in addition, receive plastic from developed regions.

The global trend to question the abusive use of plastic is beginning to take hold. Society has become highly sensitized to this phenomenon and, consequently, new guidelines and laws will be set up by public authorities to regulate their use and subsequent waste management.

Comexi is no stranger to such changes and global trends. In fact, the company has traditionally been considered a pioneer in the promotion of solvent-free printing, as well as an expert in the development of lamination techniques for working with new materials and adhesives.

In recent times, various trends have emerged, such as the use of very thin gauge materials (below 5 microns), the use of biomaterials from natural (non-fossil) sources, the use of polyolefin for subsequent lamination, and the use of adhesives and coatings with barrier properties to replace laminated or extruded layers, among others.

 

Comexi's Response

Comexi has consistently faced such challenges with advanced engineering, such as the use of very precise film tension controls in order to work with very low thickness materials; enhanced drying efficiency to work with heat sensitive films and prevent dilation; perfectly homogeneous coating application methods in order to ensure their barrier properties; and the integration of Electron Beam/UV curing equipment for lacquers and functional coatings. All these solutions are responses to emerging market needs.

On the other hand, the company is a pioneer in the work of lamination and coating on all types of paper (satin, recycled, etc.), which is undoubtedly becoming very important due to the detriment caused by the use of plastic discussed above.

In this regard, Comexi has developed industry solutions both in the form of paper-film lamination strips (photo 1) and sheets (photo 2). In the first case, the control of tension and guidance of the material through the machine results in a perfect alignment of the material for subsequent lamination. In the second, several alternatives are offered, such as the application of marking adhesive and subsequent laser processing for removal of the non-glued paper (this last step performed in a Comexi S1 DT cutter), or the removal of the glued paper in the laminator for cases in which the client wishes to work with solvent-free adhesives (specially indicated when the paper is very porous).

 

 

Photo 1

 

 

Photo 2

 

Another feature that has gained importance are barrier coatings on paper, PLA and cellophane, for which Comexi offers industrial solutions for applying high weight lacquers employing a rotogravure mechanism with a closed chamber providing dosed supply without the need for adjusting the pitch.

It should be noted that all these processes may be new for many clients and may involve a steep learning curve. This is why Comexi Cloud 4.0 was developed, state-of-the-art software that supplies all the parameters for production, analysis, cost and machine settings to facilitate day to day client operations.

The challenges facing flexible packaging in the future are great, but they are also motivating and challenging in turn, with all that entails. Comexi will remain close to its customers to meet and overcome each and every challenge as it arises.

 

 

 

Albert Chicote is Director of the Comexi Lamination Business Unit (Riudellots de la Selva, Girona). Founded in 1954 by the Xifra family, the company has extensive experience in the manufacture of machine tools for the flexible packaging conversion industry. Today, Comexi is integrated by the following product lines: flexographic printing, offset printing, lamination, cutting and digital services.

 

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